The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson is a janitor that apparently has saved Jones from an apparent suicide attempt at the subway tracks that morning, which is implied throughout the movie because the viewer never sees that scene. Anyway, the movie features both of them sitting down at Jackson’s house, and him trying to convince Jones to stay with him, afraid he may still try to off himself if he leaves. That’s the entire movie: a conversation about religious beliefs and other ideals each man has or lacks. Jones is an atheist and the pessimistic character, though by the end of the movie – at least in my perception – his pessimism ends up leaving Jackson speechless and rather desperate because he can’t refute what is being said, despite its dissonance with his own beliefs. To me, it seemed like Jones had had arrived at a logical conclusion of why he deserved to kill himself, and it seemed like his thinking went along existentialist lines, however woeful or depressing they were. Jackson said some very poignant things, too, but I guess when I watched the movie I felt the more interesting point of view was Jones’ atheism and reasons for wanting to kill himself, which is why I only seem to have quotes from him. But when I watch it again, I’ll be sure to include Jackson’s too. Interestingly, they are nameless throughout the movie, only known in the movie description as White and Black.
Tommy Lee Jones:
– “The world is basically a forced labor camp from which the workers, perfectly innocent, are laid forth, by lottery, a few each day, to be executed…”
– “You give up the world line by line. You become an accomplice to your own annihilation. There’s nothing you can do about it. Everything you do closes a door ahead of you. Finally, there’s only one door left.”
– “I don’t believe in God, can you understand that? Look around you, man! Can’t you see? The clamor and din of those in Torment has to be the sound most pleasing to His ear. I loathe these discussions. The argument of the village atheist whose single passion is to revile endlessly that which he denies the existence of in the first place. Your fellowship is a fellowship of pain and nothing more. And if that pain were collective instead of merely reiterative, the sheer weight of it would drag the world from the walls of the universe and send it burning and crashing down through whatever night it might yet be able to engender until it was not even ash…And Brotherhood, Justice, Eternal Life?? Good God, man! Show me a religion that prepares one for nothingness, for death! Yours prepares one only for more life; for dreams and illusions and lies! Banish the fear of death from man’s heart – they wouldn’t live for a day. Who would want this nightmare but for fear of the next?…The shadow of the ax hangs over every joy. Every road ends in death. Every friendship. Every love. Torment. Loss. Betrayal. Pain. Suffering. Age. Indignity. Hideous lingering illness – and all of it with a single conclusion: For you, everything, everyone that you have ever chosen to care for. That is your true fellowship; your true Brotherhood. And everybody is a member for life. You say my brother is my salvation? Well, I say damn him! Damn him in every guise, shape, and form. Do I see myself in him? Yes, I do! And what I see sickens me! Do you understand me?!”